The spatial distribution of Republican and Democratic climate opinions at state and local scales
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Even as US partisan polarization shapes climate and energy attitudes, substantial heterogeneity in climate opinions still exists among both Republicans and Democrats. To date, our understanding of this partisan heterogeneity has been limited to analysis of national- or, less commonly, state-level opinion poll subsamples. However, the dynamics of political representation and issue commitments play out over more finely resolved state and local scales. Here we use previously validated multilevel regression and post-stratification (MRP) models (Howe et al., Nat Clim Chang 5(6):596–603 2015; Mildenberger et al., PLoS One 11(8):e0159774 2016) combined with a novel approach to measuring the distribution of party members to model, for the first time, the spatial distribution of partisan climate and energy opinions. We find substantial geographic variation in Republican climate opinions across states and congressional districts. While Democratic party members consistently think human-caused global warming is happening and support climate policy reforms, the intensity of their climate beliefs also varies spatially at state and local scales. These results have policy-relevant implications for the trajectory of US climate policy reforms.
Thanks to Baobao Zhang, Chris Warshaw, Lyle Scruggs, and two anonymous reviewers for comments on an earlier draft of this paper.
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